Morning Skate: Red Wings vs. Rangers — Preview, How to Watch

How to Watch

Puck Drop: 7 PM EST
Location: Little Caesars Arena - Detroit, MI
Radio: 97.1 The Game
Rangers’ SBNation Site: Blueshirt Banter

Well, well, well... I daresay we have something that hasn’t been seen ‘round these parts in quite some time: A Red Wings playoff push.

Detroit, negative goal differential and all, is tantalizingly close to “mathematically control your own fate” territory. They have 62 points, two behind the final wild card team, and have four games in hand over both the Panthers and Islanders, who currently own both wild card spots. There are still a couple of teams around them, specifically the Penguins and Sabres, that have the edge points-percentage wise should Florida or New York slip up, but with games left against both of those teams, the Wings are in a position to give themselves a shot.

Whatever happens — whether Detroit gallivants their way into a postseason berth or whether they crash and burn over the next month and a half — the fact that we’re talking about Detroit’s playoff chances this late in the season is a welcome change of pace from the past six seasons, and a big sign that this team may finally be taking that elusive “big step forward.”

It also makes games like tonight’s fun as hell. The New York Rangers will be at Little Caesars Arena, an almost-certain playoff team that’s currently one of the league’s hottest. They’re 7-1-2 in their last ten thanks to a sudden offensive surge from the likes of Artemi Panarin (11 points in his past 5 games), Mika Zibanejad (30 goals, 30 assists this season), and the newly acquired Vladimir Tarasenko, who has 4 points in his first 6 games since arriving on Manhattan from St. Louis. The Rangers also have the guy who might be the Norris Trophy favorite right now in Adam Fox, who’s just as stifling defensively as he is dangerous offensively.

This is a playoff team coming to LCA with the Wings’ own playoff chances hanging in the balance. Tonight may very well be the closest to a playoff atmosphere in Detroit we’ve witnessed since 2016. And if the Red Wings can win tonight, buddy... let me tell you how absolutely bat shit crazy that arena is going to be for the Lightning’s visit on Saturday night.